In March 2018, following a comprehensive review of the occupation lists for employment permit purposes, the employment permits system was amended to broaden the availability of permits to all chef grades, with the exception of commis chef ,subject to a quota of 610. The Employment Permits Section of my Department informs me that this quota has now exhausted. The application of a quota is to ensure that in the longer-term, strategies are put in place to source labour supply from both the domestic and European labour markets.
The State's general policy is to promote the sourcing of labour and skills needs from within the workforce of the State and other EEA states. Where specific skills prove difficult to source within the State and EEA, the employment permits system offers a conduit into the Irish labour market for non-EEA nationals with in-demand skills and is operated as a vacancy led system.
Before consideration can be given to extending quotas, sectors needs to submit a business case clearly demonstrating that the recruitment difficulties are shortages across the EEA not to other factors such as salary and/or employment conditions. Sectors also needs to detail the strategies in place for training/upskilling/career development and show that they are engaging systematically with the employment services of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The views of the lead policy Government Department for the sector, in this case, the Department of Tourism, Transport and Trade is an important part of the decision-making process.
The occupation lists are subject to a twice yearly review and the most recent review is almost finalised. Submissions received, including those from employer representative bodies in the sector, are under consideration as part of that review. I expect to receive the Review Report imminently and will be considering its recommendations, based on available evidence, in relation to possible changes to the lists including an extension to the quota for chefs.
Applications for employment permits remain in the processing queue until they are either withdrawn or processed. The applicant may choose to leave their application in the processing queue pending the outcome of the review of the occupational lists or the applicant may withdraw their application and apply for a 90% refund. Any application that has been withdrawn will lose its place in the processing queue.